On the first day of the legal tampering period, the agent representing Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner received plenty of phone calls from teams. At last count, there were six.
And unless those six teams independently leaked to the media that interest is being expressed, the Verner camp becomes the primary suspect for the source of the leaks.
Ditto for Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, who has seven teams calling his agents. As one league source remarked regarding Johnson: “I would have thought 20 teams would call. Maybe more. Anyone can place a call.”
That’s the reality of the legal tampering period. Teams can express interest and negotiate without making an offer. When a cap-strapped team like the Steelers is calling about Verner, it becomes impossible to know who’s simply kicking tires, who’s genuinely interested, and who’s trying to use the process to create smoke screens.
For those who are genuinely interested, it’s impossible to know the level of the interest unless someone starts leaking the terms that are being discussed via negotiations that aren’t allowed to inadvertently become agreements.
The sense is that, come Tuesday, a few big names will move quickly and for too much money and then others will jump in later in the week. Even now, some of the teams aren’t even making calls, because they have no intention to sign anyone out of the gates.
From a football standpoint, the smart play always is to be patient and shop for bargains. From a business standpoint, some owners will choose to make a big splash in order to sell tickets and generate buzz and erase (if only for a day) the stink of dysfunction hovering over the franchise.
For now, reports of interest in specific players will continue to emerge and we’ll continue to pay attention to those reports even as we continue to not know what it all really means.